Vast private donations have brought public dollars with them, giving America’s wealthiest people power over the public agenda that some don’t think is healthy. -- Washington PostI was interviewed this morning by CSM reporter Stacy Teicher Khadaroo about FB founder Mark Zuckerberg's latest $120M "gift" to San Francisco Bay Area Schools. What is it about the Billionaire Boys Club? They just can't seem to keep their grubby mitts off of public education. I wish they would stick to buying basketball teams.
Zuckerberg, the world’s 21st richest person, has a net worth that Forbes pegs at $28 billion. He claims that his $100M "donation" to Newark's public schools schools raised graduation rates by 10%. What horsecrap!
Where's the evidence?
We still don't even know exactly how that money was spent except that it was used to create a couple of new privately-run charter schools and that about a third of it was used to pay political and educational consultants and contractors through a slush fund set up by former mayor Corey Booker and Gov. Christie and provided a nice tax haven for MZ.
Maybe with Booker gone, new Mayor Ras Baraka can get to the bottom of it.
I told Khadoroo how Zuckerberg's 2010 "gift" helped set the tone for the continuing national erosion of public space and public decision making. I told her how the ACLU had to file a suit in 2011 to help local parents get records on how the money was spent. I told her how all over the country, power philanthropists are using gifts to resource-starved school systems, and in return, they reserve the right to effectively set education policy and funnel money to politically-connected consultants and for-profit programs.
I also told her to read our book on the topic. I hope she gets it.